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The art of managing multiple projects

Every leader, manager, and executive has to handle multiple tasks at any given point of time. This is unavoidable. He may have been appointed for a particular work; however, with time, he will naturally get more and more responsibilities.

Management Guru, Peter Drucker, in his book, On the profession of management, is compassionate while describing the role of a manager. He says, “The role of today’s manager is very difficult. In any given situation, he has to handle multiple projects and assignments. He is always under pressure.”

Kautilya, advices us on how to manage multiple projects and get more profits for the company: “And (they) should bring about the commencement of what is not done, the carrying out of what is commenced, the improvement of what is being carried out and the excellence of (the execution of) orders, in the case of works.” (1.15.51)

He looks at four types of works that an executive has to carry out:

Commencement of what is not done

There are many things that need to be done. Good managers are those who start work on their own rather than waiting for the bosses to tell them what to do. Each person has to become proactive. He needs to build his own pipeline. New work has to be started. New experiments have to be tried. New techniques have to be applied.

Procrastination is the worst disease. Once you pick up this bad habit, decisions are not taken on time, papers get piled up and people lose focus.


Carrying out of what is commenced

A project manager said it well, “It is not important how many projects I started, but how many I have completed.” Everyone knows about the pressure getting built up simply because we are not able to complete the jobs that we started. Procrastination is the worst disease. Once you pick up this bad habit, decisions are not taken on time, papers get piled up and people lose focus. The best solution is the age of saying, “What you ought to do tomorrow, do today, what you want to do today, do it now!”

Improvement of what is being carried out

One needs to ensure that the work started should end with quality output. We should continuously strive for excellence. The Japanese theory of Kaizen believes that there is a scope of continuous improvement in each work a person can do. Excellence then becomes a habit.

Excellence in execution of orders

This means effective delegation. A manager like all other employees had limited time and resources. Thus, in order to do multiple tasking, he has to delegate it to either his team members or outsource activities. Learning this art of effective delegation is very essential if one wants to get climb up the corporate ladder. Management is not about only doing work on your own, but getting work done form others.

Once, a successful CEO who always seemed relaxed was asked the secret of his cool temperament. He said, “Immediate decisions, faith in people whom I have given the work, and spending more time in activities which will give us more money.”

Dr Radhakrishnan Pillai is an Indian management thinker, author, and Founder of Atma Darshan and Chanakya Aanvikshiki. Dr Pillai has extensively researched Kautilya’s Arthashastra, the 3rd century BC treatise and incorporated it into modern management.

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